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Six Months In. Meet up with Andrew

We caught up with Andrew Luxmore, Head of Facilities to find out a little bit about him and what he has been up to.

What did you do before joining Harrods?

I’ve not had a cookie-cutter career. I’ve changed direction a couple of times and not always based on a big plan for my career! I’ve had opportunities that have come up that were not expected and I’ve always tried to make the most of them. 

I’m a chartered civil engineer by profession – I spent the first third of my career building water and sewage treatment works which taught me a lot about what to do when things go wrong. If things go wrong in sewage, they go badly wrong and you have to move quickly. I also learned that everyone in the team has a role to play; the person keeping the stores tidy is just as important as the Site Manager.

After this I worked in Project Management Consultancy; working with the likes of Royal Mail before moving onto the client-side with the London Olympics 2012; I fell into it this part of the sports industry, planning to stay for three months and staying for four years. I worked on delivering lots of non-sexy stuff behind the scenes. You wouldn’t often associate the Olympics with the likes of material screening facilities in Chigwell but there was a huge amount to be done behind the scenes away from the cameras.

It taught me a lot about what can be achieved if everyone is pointing in the right direction with a similar cause. I’d get calls late at night asking, “Have you ever build a Heli-pad?“ and we’d get on and do it. Next, I went to the Rugby World Cup 2015 – we fundamentally changed the way that venues worked and again created an incredible sporting experience for fans and teams.

Finally, before coming to Harrods I worked for the FA at Wembley; again, what was supposed to be a short-term project turned an enjoyable challenge for a few years. My career doesn’t fit into one box from an experience perspective but I've consistently been tasked to look for new ways to make things work better – I’m excited about doing this at Harrods.

You joined Harrods six months ago, what have your early reflections been?

I didn’t have any plans to move into the retail space but the synergy between Harrods and a sporting venue is huge. Once you open the doors and commit to an event you have to get it done. You can’t tell people to just come back tomorrow.

I spoke to my family about what my first few days were like and for me it was like stepping into Willie Wonka's Chocolate Factory; there are things in Harrods that are totally unique that you wouldn’t find anywhere else. I’m excited to have the opportunity to look after it and do what I can to make a difference. We want to provide that stage, that platform for our colleagues to do what they do brilliantly. Provide an experience, a service, and memories for our customers. Whilst we aren’t selling the product or providing the service, we’re providing the facilities for them to do it. 

No one told me I’d have to do two lockdowns and a movie in my first couple of months but what we do every day is expect the unexpected – no two days are the same. It's not when everything is working that we’re busy and at our best; it’s when things go wrong when we come to life.

Tell us a bit more about what your team does

Facilities and Engineering is one of those teams that everyone knows exists but don’t necessarily understand. Every member of my team plays a critical role to make sure that Harrods keeps running. We work to keep the business operating safely; everything from painting and cleaning to wiring and toilets. It’s the little things that you don’t notice but when put into a business-like Harrods it becomes a huge operation.

I describe the work that I do as ‘boring but important’.  Our colleagues may not think that the cables hidden in walls are interesting but if they didn’t work properly it would cause us a big problem. I’m lucky that I have a great team who really know their stuff. We have a lot of experience and expertise that often goes unnoticed. We’re the team that gets called when something goes wrong and they do a great job of fixing problems and finding new ways to improve the store.

What does the Art of the Possible mean to you – have you seen anything at Harrods in your short time that demonstrated it?

Harrods has incredibly strong roots and foundations. We know who we are and what we want to be. It’s a huge benefit to me coming into a leadership role. We have amazing people who walk and talk about Harrods standards; they know what great means at Harrods and they live and breathe it every day. A short cut isn’t an option here. We might patch something to keep going but always fix the root cause; it’s refreshing and unique to work for a business that values that.

I’ve always lived by the expression, “we can build a bridge to the moon if we have enough time and money.” We can do absolutely anything if we have the right people and the right attitude and the right resources. The best way to motivate one of my teams is to tell them that something can't be done. I’ve heard that a number of times in my career and it’s always spurred me on to try new things to solve problems. When you get the plaudits for doing a great job is hugely pleasing as it makes all of the effort to achieve that impossible thing worth it.

The sporting philosophy of ‘better never stops’ is something I often think about. Someone is always trying to be better than you. If we adopt it, we’ll never rest on our laurels that what we are doing today is good enough; because it won’t be good enough. Our customers will see it as the norm, our customers will go past us and we stop innovating. This is why we have to keep the Art of the Possible central to what we do.

Which of our employee values resonate(s) the most with you and why?

All the values are important; without all of them working together they can’t be successful. The beauty of the values is how they work together.  Just like a team.  For me, We Are Human and how it works with the Art of the Possible is important. When anyone says they want to do something new or different; you may think that it’s impossible but you respect their ambition and ideas; you listen and support and find a way forward. That’s what being human means to me. Where the values come together at Harrods helps us move away from the idea that ‘we’ve always done it this way’. Anyone can come forward with an idea and be heard, we all have a chance to make Harrods a better place for colleagues and customers.

What are you looking forward to in 2021?

As for all of us, 2020 was a challenging year for the team but they have done an amazing job and I’d like to thank them all publicly for their dedication and hard work.  I am looking forward to getting to know everybody better and understanding what motivates them, what makes them proud to work for Harrods, and defining our common purpose. We will continue to deliver, always.  We have a great opportunity to create a legacy and that is exciting.  I am optimistic about 2021. 

What are your favourite memories of Harrods?

I came an hour early before my first interview and tried to remember when I last came. I think it was about 30 years since my visit before. As a kid, we’d come and look at the Christmas windows as a family. It was always a big treat, have a look at the windows, do some Christmas shopping and have a Wimpy; that might be showing my age a little bit.

What is your Uniquely You?

I coach my son’s team at Sutton and Epsom rugby club. I’ve always loved the sport and really enjoy getting to see him and his friends develop in the game.  Even at their age, you can see the contribution that every player has and that by looking after each other they can achieve anything.  This is where I learned that everybody in the team has a role to play – the chap who keeps the stores tidy is just as important as the Site Manager.

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